Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time – Mk 3:31-35
Today’s Gospel from Mark presents us with a compelling scene: as Christ is preaching, His Mother, sisters, and brothers show up and ask to see Him. Christ responds by asking who His relatives truly are, and giving the strong line, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” There is a lot that we could say about this passage: first, the term used for brothers and sisters is a broad one, and can mean cousins or more distant relatives than brothers or sisters. It doesn’t mean that Mary had other children and, indeed, we know from tradition that she didn’t. Nor is the phrase an insult to Mary, since she always did God’s will, and so not only was she Jesus’ mother in the physical sense of the word, since she gave birth to Him, but she was also most perfectly his mother according to His words here.
What really grabs our attention, however, is the power of those words: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” In large families, the siblings all tend to resemble each other physically, so much so that you can often recognize someone as a member of the family even though you’ve never met them before. To be Christ’s brother or sister is to be very close to Him, to resemble Him. This conformity comes about because we follow Christ’s example, since He said He “came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him,” (Jn 6:38), His heavenly Father. To be His mother is an even greater honor. The Blessed Virgin Mary is Christ’s mother, since she gave birth to Him; she brought Him into this world so that He could save it. When we do God’s will, we become Christ’s mother because we make Christ present again wherever we are; to do God’s will is to perpetuate Christmas in daily life.
These are huge graces; to be Christ’s brother, sister, or mother is no small thing! It’s a great grace, and Christ wants to give that grace to us. The only thing He asks of us is that we do His Father’s will. This is what makes us His brothers, sisters, and mother. Everything has to be subordinated to God’s will, and that means absolutely everything: our time, our talents, our gifts . . . everything. Writing to one of his spiritual directees, Saint Claude de la Colombière uses a very blunt and descriptive analogy. He says, “These are the dispositions in which I hope you will render your soul into the hands of Our Lord Jesus Christ: namely, that even if you knew infallibly that by living a single day through your own will, you would go straight to heaven and be placed among the Seraphim, you would rather die by God’s will and go to satisfy His justice in purgatory till the end of the world. Thy will be done, my God, that is the one thing necessary.” “Even if you knew infallibly that by living a single day through your own will, you would go straight to heaven and be placed among the Seraphim, you would rather die by God’s will and go to satisfy His justice in purgatory till the end of the world. Thy will be done, my God, that is the one thing necessary.” He continues: “Try to attain the spirit of a true victim: throw yourself blindly into the arms of God and trust that he will never allow a soul to be lost whose only confidence is in him, and who abandons herself to him without reserve.” We could look at the negative side of doing our own will, as Saint Alphonsus Liguori says, “The man who follows his own will independently of God’s, is guilty of a kind of idolatry. Instead of adoring God’s will, he, in a certain sense, adores his own.” However, the real sadness of doing our own will is that we lose the happiness and joy that could be ours, both in this life and in the next, if only we would submit ourselves to the means Christ has ordained for our salvation.
We can ask ourselves: how willing are we to submit ourselves to God’s will as expressed in things like the schedule, in our offices, in our obedience in the little things? Do we try to do our best, or do we constantly make excuses and convince ourselves that we’re doing what’s right, or that what we are doing is more important than God’s will?
“To obtain this grace [of uniformity with God’s will], we should invoke the assistance of the saints . . . and most of all our Mother Mary. She is the most perfect of all the saints because she most perfectly embraced the will of God at all times.” Through her intercession, let us ask for the grace to embrace God’s will in everything.